Route GuidesRoutes City GuidesCities Map My

Using our maps

5 Feb 2015
Find a better bike route. Try our map & route-planner »

Become a supporter

Our route-planner finds a bike-friendly route between any two places in Europe or North America.

Planning your route

Either:

  1. Click the start point, then the end point, on the map
  2. Type placenames into the two boxes, and click ‘Get route’

You don’t need to click at every junction – just the start and end; it’ll fill in the rest.

Altering your route

If the route isn’t to your liking, just drag it away from the section you want to avoid. You’ll see it re-route as you move the mouse.

A new ‘via’ marker appears when you do this. If you want to get rid of it later, just click it, then choose ‘Remove via point’.

Planning a holiday

If you’re heading out overnight (or longer), we’ll show you accommodation close to your route. Click ‘Find hotels’, and icons will appear for hotels close to the route. You can use the ‘£££’ menu to filter by price. Each hotel has a booking link for a popular site like Booking.com: you pay the usual price, but we get a little commission that helps keep the site running.

If you don’t find any hotels close to the route, drag it through a nearby town and try again. You can choose campsites too.

Checking out the hills

Click the mountain icon to see an elevation profile for the route. Move your mouse along it, and a pointer will run along the map; click to jump to that place.

Save your route for the future

Once you’re logged in with cycle.travel, you can save as many routes as you like for future use. You can log in with Twitter, Facebook or your usual email address; then use the ‘Save’ button. All your routes are accessible via the ‘My’ link at the top.

Take your route with you

You can print your route by saving it then clicking the ‘PDF’ button.

For turn-by-turn directions, choose the “Cue sheet” option. The instructions won’t always coincide with signs or road markings, so do look at the map as well. (In North America and the UK, note there’s always an instruction as you leave a village or town, even when there’s no turn.)

You can also get your route in a handy PDF ‘routebook’, with full resolution colour maps. Print it out, or save it on a smartphone, tablet or Kindle.

Use the GPS button to download a track that you can load into a GPS unit or smartphone app.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I share a route with friends? Yes. Make sure you’re logged in, then just save your route. You can then copy the link in the address bar (it’ll look like cycle.travel/map/journey/9786) and send it to your friends.

How does the route-planner choose a route? We juggle many factors to find the best overall route. Like the Coca-Cola recipe, the exact balance is secret, but ingredients include: distance, road or path type (quieter is better), surface quality, hills, directness (i.e. fewer turns), signposted cycle routes (e.g. National Cycle Network), traffic restrictions, and the speed and amount of motor traffic (UK only). We’ll also sometimes suggest pushing your bike a short way if it avoids a very long detour.

Can I adjust the routing preferences? You can choose between ‘Paths & roads’ and ‘Paved only’. The latter will ensure that you don’t go on any unpaved tracks (assuming the source mapping data from OpenStreetMap is correct!).

Any more options aren’t possible because of the way our route-planner works. We precompute all the best routes across Europe and America. It’s a slow process (about two days), but makes the route-planner fast for you, the user. If we offered options like “use major roads”, we’d have to precompute a new set of routes for each combination of options. This would take another 24 hours each time, and then we’d need a new server for each set – so seven new servers for just three tickboxes!

Instead, we aim to get the balance right between all the different factors, then make it easy for you to adjust it by dragging the route. Use the elevation profile and the map to see if there’s anywhere you’d rather avoid, then just drag the route away.

How do I put the route on a Garmin GPS? Check out this thread.

Why can’t I find a circular route sometimes? If the out and back routes would largely follow the same roads, the route-planner won’t make a circular route. This can happen for short-distance routes, or where there’s a busy road and only one safe alternative. Drag the start or end point around then try again.

Are there differences between countries? Yes; we adjust our ‘good road’ criteria for each area.

Can I change from miles to kilometres (or vice versa?) Sure. Make sure you’re logged in, then click ‘My’ at the top. Choose the ‘Profile’ page, where you can alter your settings.

How often does the data update? We aim to update our base maps and routing data every month, but it may be less often if we’re working on new features.

Do you have an API I can use for my own site/app? We don’t have a public API, but talk to us and maybe we can sort something out.

I’ve got another question! Questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear them. Post over in our forum.